Can a government shutdown be avoided?

There was a slight sigh of relief in Washington on Monday.

“This Friday, we think the government shutdown will be averted,” said Dr. Michele Swers, Associate Professor, Dept. of Government, Georgetown University

But, no one is celebrating yet.

“We may be able to avoid a shutdown for another couple of weeks,” said Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with Gorvis Communications.

Last week, House Republicans offered a deal that would keep the government afloat through March 18. It would also cut $4 billion in spending, eliminate earmarks and terminate some programs included in President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget.

“Democrats look like they’re likely to agree to that because Republicans didn’t put any poison pills into their cut bill. Basically, they took money that hasn't been spent yet and that's what is being cut,” said Dr. Swers.

The House is scheduled to take up that spending bill Tuesday and it’s expected to pass. Then, it goes to the Senate for approval. If both sides agree to the deal by Friday, they get more time to negotiate.

“This is a temporary reprieve, but a temporary reprieve only,” explained Collender.

If Congress can’t reach a compromise by mid-March that would mean hundreds of thousands of government workers would go without pay and a variety of government services around the country would close.

“National parks, museums, passport offices, visa offices - you just wouldn't be able to get anybody because no one would be allowed into the building,” said Colleneder.

Not everything would shut down. The military would still operate, government checks would be issued and highways would be open.

But political analysts say any government standstill could hurt the economy.

“There’s really nothing good about this. It shows a lack of ability and willingness to make

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